Query - The Cacao Conspiracy - newest version in post 16

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Bron
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Query - The Cacao Conspiracy - newest version in post 16

Post by Bron » March 11th, 2011, 10:33 pm

Edited query is in post 16

Hi everyone,

I've gone through a few draft of my query and this is the latest version. I've sent it to three agents and have received 2 Rs and a no response (it hasn't been long to be fair). I'm not sure whether the query is bad, or just not to their taste. What do you all think? Any suggestions for improvements gladly received.

When Peta Blackman takes a job assisting on a documentary about chocolate, she discovers the dark side of the sweet treat: murder.

An Ivorian cacao collector and a French chocolatier are both killed in front of Peta, who finds an identical symbol at each death scene. The Frenchman’s last words suggest the documentary is in danger of uncovering secrets someone wants hidden.

Peta does some digging and learns ‘someone’ is actually a mysterious society to which the two men formerly belonged and that they were killed to protect it. The society members think the bloody history of chocolate is no coincidence; they believe cacao was cursed back in Aztec times, and they’ve been trying to break the curse ever since.

Worse still, they’ve hit on the perfect recipe: sacrificing a woman, Aztec-style. When one of its members murders again, the society uses its influence with the President-elect to ensure the blame falls on Peta. Now, she must prove her innocence before the authorities catch her… or before she’s the one being strapped to an Aztec altar in Central America.

THE CACAO CONSPIRACY is a thriller of 79,000 words.
Last edited by Bron on April 7th, 2011, 8:12 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy

Post by Netti » March 11th, 2011, 10:43 pm

Bron wrote: When Peta Blackman takes a job assisting on a documentary about chocolate, she discovers the dark side of the sweet treat: murder.

An Ivorian cacao collector and a French chocolatier are both killed in front of Peta, who finds an identical symbol(I think it would help to specify what kind of symbol.) at each death scene. The Frenchman’s last words suggest the documentary is in danger of uncovering secrets someone wants hidden.

Peta does some digging and learns ‘someone’ (I don't think it's such a good idea to use the quotes. Is there another way to convey your meaning?) is actually a mysterious society to which the two men formerly belonged and that they were killed to protect it. The society members think the bloody history of chocolate is no coincidence; they believe cacao was cursed back in Aztec times, and they’ve been trying to break the curse ever since.(This last sentence throws me a little but I'm not sure why. Possibly because now I want to know why the men were killed to protect the society. All we know is that chocolate is cursed.)

Worse still, they’ve hit on the perfect recipe: sacrificing a woman, Aztec-style (What? Are you talking about breaking the curse?). When one of its members murders again, the society uses its influence with the President-elect to ensure the blame falls on Peta. Now, she must prove her innocence before the authorities catch her… or before she’s the one being strapped to an Aztec altar in Central America.

THE CACAO CONSPIRACY is a thriller of 79,000 words.
I think this is a great query! I understand that you can't fill in all the blanks in a query but maybe you could just hint at a couple other things to clear up the confusion. This is a very strong and intriguing query regardless. Good luck!

Edit: And I love that it's about chocolate!
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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy

Post by Quill » March 13th, 2011, 11:46 am

This query is basically in good shape, and the story sounds really intriguing.
Bron wrote:
When Peta Blackman takes a job assisting on a documentary about chocolate, she discovers the dark side of the sweet treat: murder.
Good opening. I keep wondering if "treat" might be replaced by "confection" to give it more weight. Either way it works.

I'd move it down into the first paragraph. I know it's probably supposed to be a stand alone logline, but I think it leads so well into the rest of the query and the query would look better without the extra space..
An Ivorian cacao collector and a French chocolatier are both killed in front of Peta, who finds an identical symbol at each death scene.
Good but a bit awkward. How about "...are killed before Peta's eyes. And she sees (discovers? finds?) an identical..."

The Frenchman’s last words suggest the documentary is in danger of uncovering secrets someone wants hidden.
Good.
Peta does some digging and learns ‘someone’ is actually a mysterious society to which the two men formerly belonged and that they were killed to protect it. The society members think the bloody history of chocolate is no coincidence; they believe cacao was cursed back in Aztec times, and they’ve been trying to break the curse ever since.
Almost too wordy with the two latter clauses (beginning with "and") feeling tacked on or run-on. But it works. You could put a period after "belonged" just to break it up.
Worse still, they’ve hit on the perfect recipe: sacrificing a woman, Aztec-style.
Good.

I am a bit confused, though. It sounded like breaking the curse was a noble cause, and yet the society murders its own for divulging this secret work. Okay, sometimes one must sacrifice for the good of the end (relieving such a dire curse). But now this ostensibly good society is killing women ritually? Now I'm not sure how the group is lifting the blood curse by spilling more blood. Do you see the rub here? Can you clarify this in the query?
When one of its members murders again, the society uses its influence with the President-elect to ensure the blame falls on Peta. Now, she must prove her innocence before the authorities catch her… or before she’s the one being strapped to an Aztec altar in Central America.
Good hooks in this query, and very efficiently presented. But again, I think we need clarification on whether this group is good or bad, basically. Wanting to relieve a blood curse on one hand, and seemingly just prolonging it on the other is creating a schism (in this reader's mind, at least).
THE CACAO CONSPIRACY is a thriller of 79,000 words.
Good. This seems a bit short for the genre, though I'm no expert on whether this is the case or how it might affect saleability.

Good luck with this project!

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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy

Post by AllieS » March 14th, 2011, 3:43 am

I think this is a really intriguing query. My comments might be repetitive, but here it goes:

When Peta Blackman takes a job assisting on a documentary about chocolate, she discovers the dark side of the sweet treat: murder.Yeah, I also think this should be dropped.

An Ivorian cacao collector and a French chocolatier are both killed in front of Peta, who finds an identical symbol at each death scene. Saying what the symbol represents might help this not sound so vague. The Frenchman’s last words suggest the documentary is in danger of uncovering secrets someone wants hidden. Someone wants hidden sounds obvious. Of course if they're secrets someone wants them hidden. Maybe rephrase to say, "uncovering secrets that shouldn't be revealed" or something of the sort. I'm nitpicking here.

Peta does some digging and learns ‘someone’I agree that you don't need the quotations. is actually a mysterious society to which the two men formerly belonged and that they were killed to protect it. Rephrasing could make this shorter. "a mysterious society the two murdered men died trying to protect" might work. But I can't tell if you mean they were killed so the society could stay secret, or if they were killed protecting it, so my suggestion might be off, but hopefully you get what I mean. The society members think the bloody history of chocolate is no coincidence; they believe cacao was cursed back in Aztec times, and they’ve been trying to break the curse ever since.

Worse still, they’ve hit on the perfect recipeLike someone above said: mention that this "recipe" is their solution to cure the curse. Also, mentioning why sacrificing a woman is the solution would be a good idea, but it's not necessary.: sacrificing a woman, Aztec-style. When one of its members murders again, the society uses its influence with the President-elect to ensure the blame falls on Peta. Now, she must prove her innocence before the authorities catch her… or before she’s the one being strapped to an Aztec altar in Central America. Good ending

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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy

Post by misstante » March 14th, 2011, 7:56 am

this sounds very interesting to me! it sounds like it the book has a 'fun' element in it (perfect recipe) and "Astec style''. If that fits your writing, leave it for sure,but just wondered if was true b/c i think the query is supposed to reflect the tone of the book. the query is tight and to the point and interesting, and i don't think two rejections are very many at all!

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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy

Post by misstante » March 14th, 2011, 7:56 am

this sounds very interesting to me! it sounds like it the book has a 'fun' element in it (perfect recipe) and "Astec style''. If that fits your writing, leave it for sure,but just wondered if was true b/c i think the query is supposed to reflect the tone of the book. the query is tight and to the point and interesting, and i don't think two rejections are very many at all!

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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy

Post by hannah_dreamergirl_3 » March 14th, 2011, 1:30 pm

[quote="Bron"]Hi everyone,

I've gone through a few draft of my query and this is the latest version. I've sent it to three agents and have received 2 Rs and a no response (it hasn't been long to be fair). I'm not sure whether the query is bad, or just not to their taste. What do you all think? Any suggestions for improvements gladly received.
I really think that you may just have been unlucky about who you sent this to, because like everyone else, I think this sounds really cool and would fit the current trends in the market. It sounds like a film!! Keep sending and you'll get there....there are a few tiny tweeks like everyon was sayin, where you could possibly improve, though I think you're pretty muc there and just need to keep sending!!

When Peta Blackman takes a job assisting on a documentary about chocolate,to add a little depth you could perhaps add who she is doin the documentary for and why...is chocolate an interest of hers? etc she discovers the dark side of the sweet treat: murder. I agree this should go a the next sentence explains what the twist is.

An Ivorian cacao collector and a French chocolatier are both killed in front of Petawhy was she with them? did she see who killed them? how were they killed? obviously don't give too many details, but a few more made add a little more depth to your query! who finds an identical symbol at each death scene. The Frenchman’s last words suggest the documentary is in danger of uncovering secrets someone wants hidden.

Peta does some digging and learns ‘someone’I actully quite like the 'someone' though I thin a little hint as to th type of digging might be goo! is actually a mysterious society to which the two men formerly belonged and that they were killed to protect it. The society members think the bloody history of chocolate is no coincidence; they believe cacao was cursed back in Aztec timessuch an amazingly clever idea! brill!!!, and they’ve been trying to break the curse ever since.

Worse still, they’ve hit on the perfect recipe'to break the curse': sacrificing a woman, Aztec-style. When one of its members murders again, the society uses its influence with the President-elect to ensure the blame falls on Petawhy Peta? how do they know she is on to them?. Now, she must prove her innocence before the authorities catch her… or before she’s the one being strapped to an Aztec altar in Central America.really like this last line, you have a nice voice in that despite the gory story you add a light touch of humour :-)

THE CACAO CONSPIRACY is a thriller of 79,000 words. Perhaps adding a little about yourself would be helpful? Also where your inspiration came from and any research you did into th history of chocolate?

Hope this helps,

Good Luck!!!
Check out my new blog at, http://hannahbullimore.wordpress.com

'Good writing is to evoke sensation in the reader, not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon'

ELDoctorow

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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy

Post by brandileigh2003 » March 14th, 2011, 6:12 pm

I like your opening!!

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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy

Post by Bron » March 21st, 2011, 4:52 am

Thanks for your feedback everyone. I've drafted a new version based on your comments and have answered some questions below. Hopefully this new version is better - please let me know what you think! And if you have a query you want critiqued, let me know via PM and I'll make sure to drop by.


When Peta Blackman takes a job assisting on a documentary about chocolate, she discovers the dark side of the sweet treat. An Ivorian cacao collector and a Parisian chocolatier are both killed in front of Peta, with the Frenchman’s last words suggesting the documentary is in danger of uncovering a chocolate secret.

Peta investigates the industry to see who doesn’t want the documentary going ahead, and uncovers a mysterious society. They kidnap Peta but she escapes and, through a source, learns their secret - they think the bloody history of chocolate is no coincidence. The society believes cacao was cursed back in Aztec times and they’ve hit on the perfect recipe to break the curse: sacrificing a woman, Aztec-style.

When one of its members murders Peta’s source, the society uses its influence with the President-elect to ensure the blame falls on Peta. Now, she must prove her innocence before the authorities catch her… or before she’s the one being strapped to an Aztec altar in Central America.

THE CACAO CONSPIRACY is a thriller of 79,000 words.


Netti - I've left out any mention of the symbol. It's not one Peta recognises and she doesn't learn what it is until closer to the end of the story, so it seems a bit misleading to say what it is. My other thought was to use 'mysterious symbol', but that seemed a bit hackneyed and I already have a mysterious society in the query.

I've also not explained that the two murdered men were formerly in the society. People were getting confused as to whether they died to protect the society or were killed by the society members because they were going to reveal something to the documentary makers (it's the latter) and I didn't want confusion in my query. I do worry that this has opened a new question i.e. why did the society kill these two men. Is this the case or do you just assume they were killed to protect the secret?

Quill - 'Confection' works, but it's not a word I would use so I didn't put it in. And I had to laugh when you said it's probably supposed to be a stand-alone logline. I hate loglines in queries but I'd somehow ended up with one after lots of editing, so I was more than happy to add it to the next paragraph as you and AllieS suggested. Also, the society aren't bad as such... they just believe the ends justifies the means, while Peta doesn't think they should be allowed to go around killing. I didn't want a cartoon villain who just killed for the fun. Hopefully this isn't an issue for an agent. And it is on the short side, but I've heard anything from 70k-100k is fine, while 80k-90k is perfect. So it's just short, but I don't think it's a length that would make agents auto-reject.

AllieS - I think mentioning why they have to sacrifice a woman would make it too wordy, but I'll keep it in mind for future versions if this one doesn't seem to hook any requests.

Misstante - I know two isn't many :-) I sent an earlier version out and got three forms and one no response, so I was just getting a little dejected about no requests. My next WIP is in a different genre, and I was trying to query agents who represent both, which was narrowing down the list a lot. I think to give this one the best possible chance I need to query as many agents that represent thrillers as I can, and worry about the next book later.

Hannah - Thanks, hopefully you're correct that I just need to keep sending! I used to mention that she was a location scout and was hired by the documentary makers, but that seemed to raise more questions than it answered. Again though, I'll keep the suggestion of more depth at this point for a future version if this one doesn't work out. Also, you asked about the two murders but they take place on different continents in different circumstances. This was something I tried to work in but again, it was getting too wordy considering I had to explain each murder individually. And I was going to put something about myself in the query, just tailored to how much information each agent likes.

Brandileigh – Thanks!

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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy

Post by Quill » March 21st, 2011, 11:16 am

Bron wrote:When Peta Blackman takes a job assisting on a documentary about chocolate, she discovers the dark side of the sweet treat.
Awkward: "When she takes a job, she discovers". She doesn't discover it when she takes the job, does she?

How about "While assisting on a documentary about chocolate, Peta..."
An Ivorian cacao collector and a Parisian chocolatier are both killed in front of Peta, with the Frenchman’s last words suggesting the documentary is in danger of uncovering a chocolate secret.
Wondering if this wouldn't be stronger attached to the previous sentence via semi-colon; the murders being the modification/explanation of "the dark side". As it it seems detached.

Omit "both" as redundant to "collector AND chocolatier".

"the documentary is in danger" is awkward. "in danger of uncovering" is awkward. It would be the film makers who would be in danger, not the doc itself, but "in danger" is not quite accurate from the perspective of Peta.

"Uncovering" repeats the "discover" from the previous sentence, and the "uncovers" from the next. How about substituting "reveals" or something in one of the instances.
Peta investigates the industry
This seems vague. The entire worldwide chocolate industry? How many months does this take?

to see who doesn’t want the documentary going ahead ,
Awkward.

"to see" could be a stronger verb ("to find out" says more. or some such).

"who doesn't want" is a negative (better to say "who might wish to prevent the doc...")

"documentary going" is awkward phrasing.
and uncovers a mysterious society. They kidnap Peta
Word non-correspondence: "Society" is singular. "They" is plural.
but she escapes and, through a source, learns their secret - they think the bloody history of chocolate is no coincidence. The society believes cacao was cursed back in Aztec times and they’ve hit on the perfect recipe to break the curse: sacrificing a woman, Aztec-style.
This says too much in the short space, its overly compressed, thus reads like a synopsis and loses the voice, and is unclear. For one thing, it might be good to again employ the semi-colon (after "coincidence") to tie in the reason they don't think it's a coincidence; they believe it was cursed. For another, it might be good to illuminate slightly why they think this is a perfect recipe, to add to the bloodiness. Readers might appreciate just a bit more there, and after all, it seems a main plot point and leads directly to your crux.
When one of its members murders Peta’s source, the society uses its influence with the President-elect to ensure the blame falls on Peta. Now, she must prove her innocence before the authorities catch her… or before she’s the one being strapped to an Aztec altar in Central America.
This is basically good. I'd consider changing "aztec altar" to "carved (or cold) stone altar" or some such, simply because you've already said "aztec" and also the specificity might be more chilling. Also, instead of Central America, how about being more specific there, too, like, "in Guatemala" or "on a mountain in Mexico" or some such.
THE CACAO CONSPIRACY is a thriller of 79,000 words.
Sounds like an interesting story with a unique hook. Good luck with this.

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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy

Post by fishfood » March 21st, 2011, 10:37 pm

This sounds like a really cool story, I bet you'll get quite a few requests for it. :)
My suggestions in red:
Bron wrote:Thanks for your feedback everyone. I've drafted a new version based on your comments and have answered some questions below. Hopefully this new version is better - please let me know what you think! And if you have a query you want critiqued, let me know via PM and I'll make sure to drop by.


When Peta Blackman takes a job assisting on a documentary about chocolate, she discovers the dark side of the sweet treat. Instead of beginning with a prep, I'd try: Peta Blackman takes a job assisting on a documentary about chocolate and discovers the dark side of the sweet treat. An Ivorian cacao collector and a Parisian chocolatier are both killed in front of Peta, with the Frenchman’s last words suggesting the documentary is in danger of uncovering a chocolate secret. Instead of making the documentary sound like the protagonist, just say: "...last words warning Peta she's in danger of uncovering a chocolate secret. BTW, there's something fun about the phrase "chocolate secret" :)

Peta investigates the industry to see who doesn’t want the documentary going ahead, and uncovers a[/s] Kind of wordy, try: Peta presses forward instead and finds a mysterious society. They kidnap Peta but she escapes and, through a source, learns their secret - they think the bloody history of chocolate is no coincidence. The society believes cacao was cursed back in Aztec times and they’ve hit on the perfect recipe to break the curse: sacrificing a woman, Aztec-style.

When one of its members murders Peta’s source, the society uses its influence with the President-elect to ensure the blame falls on Peta. Now, she must prove her innocence before the authorities catch her… or before she’s the one being strapped to an Aztec altar in Central America.


So I scratched all this out because this is where you lost me. Too much summarizing, I think you have some words left to be a bit more specific. For example, "the bloody history of chocolate is no coincidence"...what does that mean? Sorry if I'm coming off really dumb here... This may not be exactly how the plot of your story goes, but I think for the query's sake if you make things super simple, it will still get the point across. So try this:

They kidnap Peta and she learns their secret: They believe cacoa was cursed in Aztec times (BTW, what is their belief about the evils of chocolate?) and have the perfect recipe to break it--sacrificing a woman, Aztec style. Peta escapes only to find they've murdered her only source and pinned the blame on her. Now she must prove her innocence before the authorities catch her...or before she's the one being strapped to the alter in Central America.

THE CACAO CONSPIRACY is a thriller of 79,000 words.


Netti - I've left out any mention of the symbol. It's not one Peta recognises and she doesn't learn what it is until closer to the end of the story, so it seems a bit misleading to say what it is. My other thought was to use 'mysterious symbol', but that seemed a bit hackneyed and I already have a mysterious society in the query.

I've also not explained that the two murdered men were formerly in the society. People were getting confused as to whether they died to protect the society or were killed by the society members because they were going to reveal something to the documentary makers (it's the latter) and I didn't want confusion in my query. I do worry that this has opened a new question i.e. why did the society kill these two men. Is this the case or do you just assume they were killed to protect the secret?

Quill - 'Confection' works, but it's not a word I would use so I didn't put it in. And I had to laugh when you said it's probably supposed to be a stand-alone logline. I hate loglines in queries but I'd somehow ended up with one after lots of editing, so I was more than happy to add it to the next paragraph as you and AllieS suggested. Also, the society aren't bad as such... they just believe the ends justifies the means, while Peta doesn't think they should be allowed to go around killing. I didn't want a cartoon villain who just killed for the fun. Hopefully this isn't an issue for an agent. And it is on the short side, but I've heard anything from 70k-100k is fine, while 80k-90k is perfect. So it's just short, but I don't think it's a length that would make agents auto-reject.

AllieS - I think mentioning why they have to sacrifice a woman would make it too wordy, but I'll keep it in mind for future versions if this one doesn't seem to hook any requests.

Misstante - I know two isn't many :-) I sent an earlier version out and got three forms and one no response, so I was just getting a little dejected about no requests. My next WIP is in a different genre, and I was trying to query agents who represent both, which was narrowing down the list a lot. I think to give this one the best possible chance I need to query as many agents that represent thrillers as I can, and worry about the next book later.

Hannah - Thanks, hopefully you're correct that I just need to keep sending! I used to mention that she was a location scout and was hired by the documentary makers, but that seemed to raise more questions than it answered. Again though, I'll keep the suggestion of more depth at this point for a future version if this one doesn't work out. Also, you asked about the two murders but they take place on different continents in different circumstances. This was something I tried to work in but again, it was getting too wordy considering I had to explain each murder individually. And I was going to put something about myself in the query, just tailored to how much information each agent likes.

Brandileigh – Thanks!

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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy - edited version in post 9

Post by AllieS » March 25th, 2011, 4:47 am

When Peta Blackman takes a job assisting on a documentary about chocolate, she discovers the dark side of the sweet treat. An Ivorian cacao collector and a Parisian chocolatier are both killed in front of Peta, with the Frenchman’s last words suggesting the documentary is in danger of uncovering a chocolate secret.

Peta investigates the industry to see who doesn’t want the documentary going ahead, and uncovers a mysterious society. They kidnap Peta but she escapes and, through a source, learns their secret - they think the bloody history of chocolate is no coincidence. The society believes cacao was cursed back in Aztec times and they’ve hit on the perfect recipe to break the curse: sacrificing a woman, Aztec-style.

When one of its members murders Peta’s source, the society uses its influence with the President-elect to ensure the blame falls on Peta. Now, she must prove her innocence before the authorities catch her… or before she’s the one being strapped to an Aztec altar in Central America.

Personally, I think this version is good enough. The only thing I would change is what Quill suggested about the first line. Obviously, I could nit-pick like crazy, but this is your query in your words and it grabs me enough to want to see more. Good job!!

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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy - edited version in post 9

Post by Bron » April 1st, 2011, 8:41 am

Thank you Quill, AllieS and Fishfood for your comments on the previous version. Hopefully this one is better. I loved the phrase "dark side of the sweet treat" but in the spirit of killing your darlings, I've gotten rid of it and I think the first paragraph flows better and gets to the point more quickly. I've also taken the time to explain a bit more and hopefully cut out some of the confusing lines.


While assisting on a documentary about chocolate, Peta Blackman witnesses the murders of an Ivorian cacao collector and a Parisian chocolatier. The Frenchman’s last words suggest the documentary makers are on the cusp of exposing a chocolate secret, so Peta investigates.

She discovers a mysterious society is responsible for the deaths and learns its members plan to kill again. Before Peta can find out why, she is spotted spying and kidnapped. Peta escapes and retreats to documentary work in Mexico City, where she bonds with an archaeologist unearthing Aztec sacrificial and chocolate vessels.

But when the society takes an interest in the archaeological dig, Peta can no longer ignore them and, through a source, ascertains their secret. The society believes cacao was cursed in Mesoamerican times and they’ve hit on the perfect recipe to break the curse: sacrificing a woman, Aztec-style.

Their secret revealed, the society members come after Peta and shoot her source, before using their influence with the President-elect to ensure the blame for the murder falls on Peta. Now, she must prove her innocence before the authorities catch her… or before she’s the one being strapped to a stone altar in Central America.

THE CACAO CONSPIRACY is a thriller of 79,000 words.

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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy - edited version in post 9

Post by fishfood » April 4th, 2011, 11:10 pm

Bron wrote:Thank you Quill, AllieS and Fishfood for your comments on the previous version. Hopefully this one is better. I loved the phrase "dark side of the sweet treat" but in the spirit of killing your darlings, I've gotten rid of it and I think the first paragraph flows better and gets to the point more quickly. I've also taken the time to explain a bit more and hopefully cut out some of the confusing lines.


While assisting on a documentary about chocolate, Peta Blackman witnesses the murders of an Ivorian cacao collector and a Parisian chocolatier. The Frenchman’s last words suggest the documentary makers are on the cusp of exposing a chocolate secret, so Peta investigates.

She discovers a mysterious society is responsible for the deaths and learns its members plan to kill again. Before Peta can find out why, she is spotted spying and kidnapped. Peta escapes and retreats to documentary work in Mexico City, where she bonds with an archaeologist unearthing Aztec sacrificial and chocolate vessels. I'm not sure I understand what chocolate vessels are...? And I think you can clean this sentence up a teeny tiny bit. Try: Peta escapes though to Mexico City to continue her investigation (or is she doing new documentary work now? If she's not continuing her investigation then drop the "documentary work" since it' wouldn't really be relevant to the query) and bonds with an archeologist...

But when the society takes an interest in the archaeological dig, Peta can no longer ignore them and, through a source, ascertains their secret. This sentence feels weak to me, can it be more exciting like: Turns out Peta didn't escape long from the society. Their existence is threatened by the archeological dig and through a source (is there a word or two that can describe who the source is? Another journalist, a native, a former member?), Peta finally knows why: The society believes cacao was cursed in Mesoamerican times and they’ve hit on the perfect recipe to break the curse it: sacrificing a woman, Aztec-style.

Their secret revealed, the society members come after Peta and shootI like "murder" better... ;) her source, before using their influence with the President-elect to ensure the blame for the murder falls on Peta. Now, she must prove her innocence before the authorities catch her… or before she’s the one being strapped to a stone altar in Central America.

THE CACAO CONSPIRACY is a thriller of 79,000 words.
Nice job cleaning this up. I can imagine all yummy the ways you could promote this book if it got published!

Bron
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Re: Query - The Cacao Conspiracy - final(?) version in post 15

Post by Bron » April 6th, 2011, 5:05 pm

Thanks fishfood, you had some great suggestions. And yes, lots of yummy promotional opps wait on the horizon if only I can get an agent and a publisher! I think this version is ready to go, unless anyone has any more changes?

While assisting on a documentary about chocolate, Peta Blackman witnesses the murders of an Ivorian cacao collector and a Parisian chocolatier. The Frenchman’s last words suggest the documentary makers are on the cusp of exposing a chocolate secret, so Peta investigates.

She discovers a mysterious society, led by chocolate tycoon Theo Daniels, is responsible for the deaths. Before Peta can find out why, a society member spots her spying and kidnaps her. Peta escapes to Mexico City, where she meets an archaeologist unearthing Aztec artefacts.

But Peta can’t avoid the society for long. Theo visits the archaeological dig, desperate to take a sacrificial vessel. Through Marie, the granddaughter of a deceased society member, Peta learns why - the society believes cacao was cursed in Mesoamerican times and they’ve hit on the perfect recipe to break it: sacrificing a woman, Aztec-style.

Their secret revealed, Theo and the society come after Peta. She escapes once more, but the society murder Marie, before using their influence with the President-elect to ensure the blame falls on Peta. Now, she must prove her innocence before the authorities catch her… or before she’s the one being strapped to a stone altar in Central America.

THE CACAO CONSPIRACY is a thriller of 79,000 words.

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